Hard Reviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Mr. Big - Get Over It
(Warner)

Forever struggling with this virtuoso busy-osity stuffing itself into very plausible songs thing, Mr. Big unwittingly find cogent chemistry through the acquisition of a new guitar player, one Richie Kotzen. Kotzen is a sly and sultry funkster with a metal heart, or at least a Hendrix-hard backbone, a quality which blends well with one of the bass guitar's most distinguished ambassadors, Billy Sheehan, and the increasingly bluesy and stylistcally torrid pipes of perennial youngster Eric Martin. But despite an encyclopedic knowledge of funk, as well as his own jazz band Niacin, Sheehan doesn't take the sound too far from what would be believable from this borderline hair metal band of old. He, and they, are too smart, arriving moreso at nasty, layered, textured, and often grinding and slow funk rock (barely metal) along the lines of top-knotch Whitesnake, Purple, Glenn Hughes, or oddly enough, the redeemed mid-grooves of the last two Night Ranger albums. Of course it wouldn't be Mr. Big without plush acoustic reclines, of which there are two, Superfantastic going square for the hook-heaven hit zone, while My New Religion is somewhat more ambitious and ponderous, a beautiful smart ballad down the path toward John Lennon. All in all, a mature and thoughtful band with new funky life.
Rating 7.5

Various Artists - Snakebites: A Tribute To Whitesnake
(Deadline)

Here's one of these endless variants whose heart is in the right place, but er, heart's grown cold. No techno remixes, no third-rate death metal, but no real pep either, Snakebites gathering guys with thick metal resumes to romp through Coverdale's classics. Trouble is, these songs were so largely produced, played and sung in the first place, there's little to improve upon. How can you top the original leadweight sledge of Still Of The Night? You can't, unless a creative re-engineering is an improvement, an idea nobody here dares address. So what you get are stars like Bernie Shaw, Doogie White, Nicky Moore, Steve Overland (OK, not exactly stars, but in our geeky metal microcosm, these guys mean something), plus Mick Moody, Pete Jupp, Rick Wills and Neil Murray, giving us these polished pop metal munchers with a 6.5% gesture toward personal stamp. Big deal. One positive though: these assembled song choices would likely, just by a hair, eclipse any original Whitesnake album as the best of the catalogue (and if not, it would be because of the whore-mongering ballads Is This Love and The Deeper The Love).
Rating 6

Hard Reviews Page 5